With the Conclave starting in less than 24 hours I thought I might leave a post which is more uplifting than the ones about the corruption and the corrupted. The following is the last part of an article by Jesuit Fr James Hanvey posted at America Magazine. The first parts deal with the Church as it is and some the solutions to identified problems. The following part, copied below, is where Fr Hanvey sees the Resurrected Christ reappearing on the Church's horizon. This Jesus is not found among the dead and lifeless or those whose fears prevent them from love.
Glimpses of an Emerging Church
At first these may seem rather internal concerns, but without them the gifts that Christ and the Holy Spirit bestow upon the whole community will always be frustrated. Running through the Second Vatican Council is the vision of an open church, attentive to the ways in which the Spirit is working in all aspects of human endeavor, its political, cultural and religious traditions. At the heart of the council’s vision is a vital but simpler church that lives out of the Trinitarian mystery. The miracle of its sacramental life renews this church and makes it less an institution and more a familiar mysticism of presence, persons and communio. It is a church where communio finds daily expression not in retreat from the suffering, violence and injustice that mark the world, but in a profound loving solidarity with it; a communio of love that is primarily at the service of the poor, weak, forgotten and abandoned.
It is a church that follows the incarnate and risen Christ into all the depths of history and the empty places of the human heart, and always with love. Living from the truth of Christ, it understands and cherishes the supreme gift of life in all men and women, whatever their race, religion, state or status. It rejoices in those structures, human as well as divine, which allow life—all life—to flourish. When the church lives this, then it lives most deeply its own sacramental life, offered without charge or contract to a secular world whose soul is slowly starving. Such a church can teach the evangelical counsels and the precepts with authority: how to share the resources of creation, live materially simpler but spiritually richer lives in solidarity with all women and men, reverencing our own bodies and those of others, rejecting all the ways of instrumentalizing and brutalizing creation and one another.
The council understood how only a church that lives out of a kenosis of love and joyous self-sacrificing gift can realize this vision. For such a church, secularization is not a threat but a call. It is not a utopian church or a church that has some dreamy, humanitarian ethic. Following the crucified Christ, it can never underestimate the reality of our wounded state, but it is not afraid to suffer for and with the world, living with all the tortured realities of our sin but understanding the quieter victory of hope, love and grace, “laboring and working” in the vineyard of the Lord until he comes. Above all, the church that the council glimpsed was one that knew that even when the secular world formally denies God, and informally ignores him, he is always present.
It will take a humble, free, mystical church to see this, to go even into the darknesses where God has been hidden or discarded. When it takes this next step, even on the Holy Saturdays of the secular world, it will find him where he is not expected to be; it will discover that there are many who bear his name and hear his voice. They have been waiting so long for the church to find them.
Maybe, as the church inaugurates a new papacy, we will not be afraid to love this church, as it is, as it desires to be, as God wills it to be. Maybe we will glimpse again the greatness of the church’s heart and mission.